It starts off like any other day. Any writer luncheon. Fascinating people surround me at our table. Lynn is teaching a new class in writing. Hank shares his journey of marketing his futuristic novel. Peter asks me how I got my first book published.
As I reach for the water pitcher, the friend at my left chokes.
“Are you all right?” I ask.
She shakes her head no.
That’s not the right answer. It’s not the expected answer.
“Do you need the Heimlich?”
She shakes her head yes. Her eyes shine with fear.
Our tablemates freeze.
Everything moves in slow motion.
Yet everything happens quickly. How can this be?
Reach around her — make a clasped fist.
Push up. Push up. Push up.
She coughs. Sputters.
She does not gasp.
How much time does she have?
I yell into the room. “HEIMLICH? HEIMLICH?”
For a moment, the room is frozen.
Now she stands behind my chair. She leans over. Pushes against it.
“HEIMLICH!” I gesture. Come!
Now people spring into action. Others try. Others fail.
The restaurant manager comes into the room.
How long can she last?
“An ambulance is coming,” I hear someone say.
Not fast enough.
I look at Hank across the table. My eyes widen.
Do I gesture? Or does he read my eyes?
He jumps up.
I know I cross myself.
Hail Mary Full of Grace. Hail Mary Full of Grace. Hail Mary . . .
And then she breathes.
It’s another day.
Writing Prompt: 1. When have you had a scary experience in your life? What happened? How did you feel? You can make a small anecdote like I wrote above into a full length personal narrative by slowing-down-the-moment with more sensory details, dialogue, feelings and thoughts.
2. Turn an exciting experience that you have had into a short story or poem or piece of art. By turning a potential traumatic or negative experience into a piece of writing or art, you can “own” the memory or moment in time and come to grips with it more easily.
3. How will you move on? What have you learned from this experience? How has it made you stronger? Choose a genre or art form to show this.